U.S. Civil Rights Trail links landmarks

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January 23, 2018
Media outlets covering the launch of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail included: The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Associated Press, Alabama Public Radio, DailyMail.com, The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, U.S. News and World Report, The Washington Post, Yahoo, The Anniston Star, The Birmingham Business Journal, The Decatur Daily, The Florence Times Daily, The Gadsden Times, The Montgomery Advertiser, The Tuscaloosa News,Yellowhammer.com, WAFF-48, WAKA-8, WALA-10, WBRC-6, WCFT-33/40, WHNT-19, WKRG-5, WNCF-32, WVTM-13, WZDX-54

Visitors can literally walk in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, John Lewis and other African American activists, thanks to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which was launched on King's birthday.
 
Gov. Kay Ivey made Alabama’s announcement of the civil rights trail last week at King’s former church. Ivey, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean, and Joseph Carver, the vice president of the Montgomery Improvement Association also spoke at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church’s event. 
 
The announcement marks the first time Southern tourism departments have worked together to link the country's most important civil rights sites. Many of these important historical sites are in Alabama.
 
The trail includes almost 130 museums, churches, courthouses and other landmarks that were essential to the advancement of social equality during the volatile 1950s and 1960s. Almost 30 of these sites are in Alabama with most of them in Central Alabama. Montgomery has 10. Selma has seven, and Birmingham and Tuskegee have four.

The website www.civilrightstrail.com profiles the landmarks and offers an interactive map, interviews with foot soldiers, past and present photographs and 360-degree video as special features.

Alabama tourism director Lee Sentell said civil rights sites are already popular attractions, and the U.S. Civil Rights Trail will only increase that popularity.
 
“The subject of human rights has never been more relevant,” he said. “The landmarks in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery already attract visitors from Britain, Europe and Australia as well as from the U.S. Now that the South has a website that raises the visibility of minor sites, we can expect more tourists in Monroeville, Tuskegee and Scottsboro.”
 
By connecting these sites for the first time, it also makes it easier to plan multi-state road trips and to plan them around particular themes or people, such as the Freedom Rides or the role African American churches played in the movement.
 
Two years ago, National Park Service director Jonathon Jarvis challenged historians to inventory surviving civil rights landmarks. Georgia State University found 60, which became the foundation of the trail.
 
Then Sentell helped spearhead an effort by TravelSouth USA to have the 12 Southern states it represents supplement the list with other worthy sites. The result is a trail that stretches from schools in Topeka, Kan., known for the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation court decision in 1954, to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech to thousands who rallied for equal opportunity in 1963. But the vast majority of the sites are located in the South.

Below are the sites in Alabama:
Anniston
        Freedom Riders National Monument
 Birmingham
        16th Street Baptist Church
        Bethel Baptist Church
        Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
        Kelly Ingram Park
 Monroeville
        Old Courthouse Museum
Montgomery
        Alabama State Capitol
        City of St. Jude
        Civil Rights Memorial Center
        Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church
        Dexter Parsonage Museum
        First Baptist Church on Riley Street
        Frank M. Johnson Jr. Federal Building and United States Courthouse
        Freedom Rides Museum
        Holt Street Baptist Church
        Rosa Parks Museum
 Scottsboro
        The Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center
 Selma
        Brown Chapel AME Church
        Edmund Pettus Bridge
        Lowndes Interpretive Center
        National Voting Rights Museum and Institute
        Selma Interpretive Center
        Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
        The Sullivan and Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson Foundation and Museum
 Tuscaloosa
        Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama
 Tuskegee
        Butler Chapel AME Zion Church
        Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site
        Tuskegee History Center
        Tuskegee University

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